A Dozen Ways To Defeat Lonliness


A Dozen Ways

to Defeat


Dear friend,

The booklet you hold in your hands is

one in a series designed to help you with

practical “hands-on” information in your

personal search for a better life and to

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No matter who you are or where in life

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We trust this booklet and others in the

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through each passage of life.

—The Publishers

Copyright © 2011

PROJECT: Steps to Christ, Inc.

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Fort Covington, NY 12937

Printed in the USA

Scripture taken from the New King James Version.

Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson,Inc. Used by permission.

All rights reserved.

y Victor Parachin

As a social worker who directs a shelter for abused

women, I’m fulfilled with my work and contribution

to the lives of others. Yet, even though I’m very busy,

I don’t feel connected. I feel lonely.”

—Tricia, 37 years of age

“My dad died two years ago when I was 15. My life

hasn’t been easy since then. I have some good days

and many bad ones. Mostly, I feel lonely because

most people just don’t understand.”

—Will, 17 years of age


“I have what many would call a dream job working

in California’s Silicone Valley. There I’m surrounded

by many colleagues and acquaintances. I have no

one I’d call a true friend. At times my loneliness is


—Cindy, 24 years of age

“Sometimes I think there is something wrong with

me. I’m married to a fine woman, have three great

kids and a job which is satisfying and pays well. Yet,

I feel very much alone, in need of a deeper human


—Eldon, 53 years of age

Loneliness is a widespread issue faced by

many people today. Loneliness strikes the

young and the old; males and females; the

employed and unemployed; the married and single.

Loneliness is no respecter of person, gender,

age, or position in life.

Exactly how many people suffer from loneliness

is difficult to determine, because many

people are afraid to admit they feel isolated. “In

our society, loneliness is a secret we keep—sometimes

from ourselves,” notes Ann Peplau, PhD., a

professor of social psychology at UCLA who has

studied the subject for more than twenty years.

“Loneliness has a stigma attached to it. There’s an

assumption out there that if you’re lonely, it must

be your own fault. Otherwise, you’d certainly have

lots of friends—right?” Based on her research, Dr.

Peplau speculates that “at any given time at least

ten percent of the population feels lonely.” As depressing

as loneliness can be, there is this good

news: loneliness can be shaped, managed and even


Here are a dozen ways to

combat and defeat loneliness.


Remind Yourself You Are Not

Alone in Feeling Lonely

Loneliness is triggered when our need for

a close, caring relationship is not met. This is a

condition which almost everyone experiences at

one time or another. Remind yourself that you are

not alone in feeling lonely; that loneliness is a part

of being human. Even those who wrote the Bible

experienced bouts of loneliness. Many Psalms are

cries of loneliness. Consider these:

• Psalm 38:11—“My loved ones and my friends

stand aloof from my plague,and my relatives

stand afar off.”



• Psalm 102:7—“I lie awake, and am like a

sparrow alone on the housetop.”

• Psalm 31:11—“I am a reproach among all

my enemies,but especially among my neighbors,

and am repulsive to my acquaintances;

those who see me outside flee from me.”

Both Job and the apostle Paul felt the sting

of loneliness. Job cried out: “All my close friends

abhor me,and those whom I love have turned

against me” (Job 19:19).

Paul wrote: “At my first defense no one stood

with me, but all forsook me” (2 Timothy 4:16).

With His betrayal by friends, arrest by the

Jewish leaders and crucifixion by the Romans,

Jesus felt deeply the pain of loneliness. He literally

screamed His pain aloud: “My God, My God, why

have You forsaken Me?” (Matthew 27:46).

Likewise, many contemporaries have experienced

the pang of loneliness. The great composer

Peter Tchaikovsky wrote: “None but the lonely

heart can feel my anguish.” Henry David Thoreau

lamented: “It would give me such joy to know that

a friend had come to see me, and yet that pleasure

I seldom if ever experience.”



Reach Out and Touch Someone

Work at your friendships. You can develop

a circle of friends at any stage in life. Of

course, developing friendships means making

the time to connect with others. “A lot of people,

if they think honestly, really are selfish with their

time,” says Pepper Schwartz, Ph.D., a professor of

sociology at the University of Washington. “When

somebody says, ‘Why isn’t anyone there for me?’

I have to ask, ‘Well, what have you done to deserve

a friend?’” Even though you may be very busy

with work, family and civic responsibilities, make

the time to cultivate friendships. Keep in mind

that the best way to have a friend is to first be a

friend. Try to become what you want to attract. Be

the kind of person you would want to surround

yourself with.


Have an Honest Look at Yourself

If your circle of meaningful friendships has

shrunk over the past months, take an emotional

inventory of yourself. Ask yourself if you

have become too:

• Self-absorbed—overbearing, boring, uninterested

in others, their lives and activities.


• Unbalanced—a loner, workaholic, or a

socially-challenged individual.

• Lazy—depending on others to do all the initiating,

reaching out, inviting.

• Critical, judgmental and angry—these are all

hostile emotions which drive people away.

• Narrow-minded—closed to other points of

view; overly comfortable that your perception

is always correct.

If these are problems in your life, be aware of

them and begin working at ways to minimize and

eliminate those negatives. If necessary, see a counselor

or therapist for guidance. By doing some

work on your inner life, you will strengthen your

social portfolio.


Utilize a Computer

That advice comes from Silver Spring,

Maryland resident Floyce Larson, who says:

“When my husband of 50 years died, I was lost.

I was a lonely widow, wondering what I would

do with the rest of my life.” Her son insisted she

purchase a computer and then he patiently taught

Larson how to use it. “Being online opened a whole

new world for me. I communicate via e-mail with

distant relatives and old college friends. I chat with

Senior Net members and make friends across the

country. I resumed freelance writing and have also

been published online. The first thing I do when

I log on at six a.m. is write e-mail prayers. Soon

after, my older son pops up on an Instant Message

from Florida,” Larson explains.


Help Someone Who Needs Support

“The capacity to care is the thing that gives

life its greatest significance,” wrote musician

Pablo Casals. Those who volunteer their time live

longer and happier lives. Acting on compassion

and kindness brings fulfillment, joy and purpose,

as well as validating our self-worth along with

that of others. And, by responding to the needs

of others, you will allow love into your own life.

Consider the example of Ches Hudel who was 31

when her husband and nine-year-old son died in

an automobile accident four decades earlier. She

was left to raise three daughters, the youngest

was just over a year old. Today, in her 70s, she has

looked back at her journey through grief. She says

that reaching out to others was therapeutic and cut

down her own loneliness.

Mrs. Hudel began volunteering at a children’s

medical center, working with kids who had cystic



fibrosis. She also began teaching swimming to special-needs

children and adults, which she continues

to do today at the YWCA. Her students have

such disabling conditions as Down Syndrome,

Spina Bifida and Cerebral Palsy. “You soon realize

you can’t indulge yourself by wishing for something

that’s not going to be. When you start reaching

out from your world, there’s so much you can

do with yourself to meet people on the same journey,

to help them meet their challenges.”


Be Proactive

If you’re unsatisfied with your current

friendships or feel that you’ve outgrown old

friends, go out and recruit new ones. Meet folks

beyond your job and neighborhood, enroll in an

evening course, go on a retreat, sign up to help

in a political campaign, join a sports team, participate

in a Bible study, or become a member of

your church choir. Before long, you’ll have many

new friends. Consider Carol’s experience. When

her husband took a new job in another part of the

country, “I suddenly found myself very, very lonely.

I missed, terribly, my old neighborhood and my

many friends. After brooding about my circumstances

for a few weeks, I decided that enough

was enough.” Carol began intensely to reach out.

“Although it was difficult, as I am naturally a shy

person, I forced myself to get involved and forge

new friendships. This meant being open to new

social experiences. I joined the local League of

Women Voters and rather quickly found myself

immersed in all sorts of community issues and

meeting a wide range of individuals in our city.

A year later I’ve managed to develop a very nice

circle of friends,” she says.


Increase Your Level of Caring

An important key for warding off loneliness

is care. Be a person who cares for others,

for animals, for the environment, for life and

everyone and everything around you. “When you

maintain a pattern of caring, whether for a horse,

a garden, pets, or other people, you are protecting

yourself against despair,” says Dr. Aaron Katcher,

M.D., co-author of Between Pets and People.


Turn to God

God is a specialist when loneliness and

anguish are deep. When it seems that no

one understands or cares about you, work to remind

yourself that God knows you, loves you,

cares about you and is present in your loneliness.

Turn to God in prayer, asking Him to help you



find joy… even when things feel bleak. Let your

thoughts and feelings be redirected by reviewing

these scriptures which affirm God’s faithful love

and constant presence.

• 1 Peter 5:7— God cares about you and your

feelings: “… casting all your care upon Him,

for He cares for you.”

• Matthew 11:28-30—An invitation to find

comfort in Christ: “Come to Me, all you who

labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you

rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from

Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and

you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke

is easy and My burden is light.”

• Isaiah 43:1-4—A powerful reminder that in

hard times God is present: “But now, thus

says the Lord.… Fear not, for I have redeemed

you; I have called you by your name;

You are Mine. When you pass through the

waters, I will be with you; and through the

rivers, they shall not overflow you. When

you walk through the fire, you shall not be

burned, nor shall the flame scorch you. For

I am the Lord your God,… Since you were

precious in My sight, you have been honored,

and I have loved you.”


• Lamentations 3:22-26—God’s love sustains

us: “His compassions fail not. They are new

every morning; great is Your faithfulness. …

The Lord is good to those who wait for Him,

to the soul who seeks Him. It is good that one

should hope and wait quietly for the salvation

of the Lord.”

• Joshua 1:9—God is always with you: “Be

strong and of good courage; do not be afraid,

nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is

with you wherever you go.”


Transform Acquaintances into Friends

All of us know people casually—colleagues

at work, retailers who serve us regularly,

adults we meet at our children’s sporting events,

and classmates at school. These casual contacts

are golden opportunities for turning acquaintances

into friends. One easy way to do this is to

include acquaintances in events, which you plan

to do anyway.

Here are some examples:

• Suggest meeting together for a meal at a

nearby restaurant;


• Offer an extra ticket to a sporting event or a


• Bring your families together for a local art


• Meet for a morning jog or round of golf;

• Go together to a farmers’ market, antique

fair or auto exhibit.


Turn Loneliness to Your Advantage

Just as medieval alchemists hoped to

find a way of turning lead into gold,

you can become an “emotional” alchemist who

can turn the lead of loneliness into the gold of

benefit. One woman tells of spending most of her

teen years tormented by loneliness. She was able to

break the pain of those years by discovering three

ways that loneliness became beneficial. “First,

loneliness forced me to become best friends with

myself. I began to relish long walks in the woods

or hours in the library feeding my mind. Secondly,

it made me get much, much closer to God as I read

scripture, meditated, and prayed about my feelings

of loneliness. Thirdly, having spent many years

without the company of close friends, I learned to

value them highly when I found some.” The lesson:

even if loneliness is part of your life, it does


not need to be crippling and confining. Make it

work for you. Turn it around so that your sadness

will become gladness.


Apply the “As-If ” Principle

Psychologist William James taught

this principle when he said: “If you

want quality, act as if you already had it.” This

means trying to act like a non-lonely person. Greet

people with a smile. Adopt a friendly, enthusiastic

tone when speaking with individuals. Get on the

phone and be in touch with others. Interact with

people whenever and wherever you can. Think,

speak, act and live like a non-lonely person.

Be guided by this wisdom from Shakespeare:

“Assume a virtue, if you have it not.” By acting “as

if ” you were not a lonely person, you will soon

possess the desired quality you are assuming.


Remind Yourself

“It’s Worth the Effort”

While strengthening your social portfolio

does take some work and energy, the payoff is

a richer, fuller, happier life. Lotte Prager owes her

life, and much of the happiness she enjoyed during

her 81 years, to friends. It was friends who helped

her escape Nazi Germany in 1937 by paying her


first year’s tuition at a British college. Then friends

at the college helped her get her relatives, including

her parents, out of Germany. Following her

move to the United States, Prager met her husband-to-be

at a party given by other friends. After

her husband died and her children had grown up,

yet another friend helped her find an apartment

in New York City. Retired from her career as a social

worker, Prager now relies on friends for companionship.

Prager says she is comforted in the

knowledge that “they will do for me and I will do

for them.”

* * *

Just remember, you don’t have to be lonely.

There are things you can do to remedy this

situation. By reaching out to God and others, you

can find happiness, peace, and inner fulfillment.

Other titles available in

the Peacefinder book series:

You Can Stop Smoking

Addiction Free

Ten Ways to Improve Your Marriage

A Dozen Ways to Defeat Loneliness

Hope in Times of Trouble

Money Management

Stress Management

Survival Tips for Single Parenting

Successful Parenting

Living with Loss

The Healing of Sorrow

Life After Death

Medical Miracle

Gentle Ways to Ease Depression

To order additional titles, visit our online

bookstore at www.peacefinders.org

or call 1-800-728-6872.

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